Tell us about yourself, who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
My name is Leticia Banegas and I am a Honduran painter. I currently live in San Pedro Sula, in Honduras. I started out as a graphic designer, actually that is what I studied in College. But my passion has always been painting. So since 2012 I became a full time painter.
How did you get started doing what you do?
I’ve always loved painting, it was always a passion for me. But I had to have a “Real Job” so for many years painting was left aside as a hobby. In 2012 I decided to take the plunge, I was sick of my job. I had been changing jobs a lot because I got easily bored and frustrated; that made me feel guilty, sad and I felt like I was the one with a problem. It was at that point I knew I had to do something or I would become bitter. So I stoppped postponing it and started doing what I loved. It was scary at first, because I had children that depended on me, but my husband was a great support in making my decision and in the end it was the best decision I ever made. I am so happy now, every day is a blessing for me since I paint full time.
How would you describe your style?
Well, I would describe my work as magical realism.
I see my work as the portrayal of a world that exists somewhere between heaven and earth. When I paint I see these women, I see them walking like if they were underwater with their hair flowing in slow motion. They exist, I see them. It is a magical realm that most of us can´t see but that doesn´t mean it doesn´t exist.
What’s your inspiration?
I am inspired by the women in my family through generations. Their stories are so rich, complex and some of them are almost surreal. I try to create a “world” populated by the magical presence of these women. I also like to work with female archetypes, representing them with my personal stamp.
What is art to you?
I believe Art is the manifestation of the divine within each one of us.
What does your typical day look like?
I am the happy mother of two small children (5 and 6 years old). So my days are super busy, messy and above all happy.
My days begin at 5 am, getting lunchboxes ready, and waking the kids at 5:30 to get them ready to go to school. Once I am alone at home, I paint from 7:30 am to 12m. Pick up the kids from school. Do homework in the afternoon and finally begin working again at aprx. 7:30 pm. till I am too sleepy to continue.
How long does it typically take for you to finish a piece?
Since my work has so much detail and the formats are pretty large. It may take from a week to a month. I do several simultaneously though.
How do you keep motivated?
What I do is my legacy for my children and for the future generations in my family. My work is what I will leave them to remember me by.
My kids are so proud of me and my paintings. They are never shy about bragging to strangers about how beautiful their mommy paints. That definitely keeps me going.
How have your surroundings influenced your work?
My family is filled with strong, intelligent, educated and confident women and that is what I always try to portray in my paintings. In a way, I paint the women in my family. They all have intense eyes and strong opinions.
What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
I want to leave a mark in this world through my work. I want to try to broaden the way for future generations of women artists in my country.
How have others reacted to your work?
Most of my buyers are women and usually when a woman buys one of my paintings they always tell me “I am buying it, because that is me in that painting”, women feel very connected to my work.
What do you want others to take away from your work?
In a world full of evil and darkness, I want my paintings to bring light to people. I want people to forget about everything that´s wrong with the world for those brief minutes they appreciate one of my paintings.
What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
I would tell myself a quote by Facundo Cabral:
¨Do only what you love and be happy, and by doing what you love you are blessedly condemned to success, it will come when it must, because what will be will be, and it will come naturally.¨
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Honor your predecessors but don´t try to be like them, be original… always.
Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
Work, work, work. I know it is a bit cliché but that is the best advice I can think of. The more you work in your craft the better you will get. I experienced it, when I began painting full time, I could notice from one painting to the next how much I had improved.
When you work hard in what you do, there is no telling how good you will eventually get.
What are your thoughts on art school?
Getting a degree from an art school has its advantages. Art school gives you a lot, it gives you the tools to actually make art, it also allows you to experiment with a wide variety of media and techniques. You also immerse yourself in a community that supports and understands art.
But there is also a downside to art school, It is too easy to be influenced by teachers and fellow students, that can make it more difficult for you to find your true self as an artist. In the long run it is your talent and originality as an artist that will get you through this business.
Have any future aspirations that you’d like to share?
I plan to keep painting as much as I can, continue evolving as an artist and get my work seen everywhere I can. I guess in the end, we all want to be famous painters, sculptors, photographers, ect, even those who say fame doesn´t really matter to them. (smile)
What’s your dream project?
I would love to be able to participate in the Miami art basel.
What art supplies do you use?
In Honduras supplies are limited, so I work with what I can get my hands on. There are two things that can never be missing within my art supplies, gold paint and oil markers.
How could the art industry become better in your opinion?
Collectors and important galleries should give emerging artists more opportunities, many buyers make their decisions based on who else bought and not on the artist´s work.
Any other artists that you would like to recommend for others to check out as well?
My favorite Honduran painter is Armando Lara, his work is stunning.
There is another Honduran painter whose work I like a lot, his name is Santos Arzu Quioto.